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 What teachings do you carry with you?

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Lise
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PostSubject: What teachings do you carry with you?   Fri May 28, 2010 9:07 pm

First topic message reminder :

I thought it might be fun to talk about which teachings have stuck with us since we first heard of them, whether from the OBC or elsewhere. Sometimes I'm surprised at the small random thoughts guiding me through the day.

"First, put your shoes straight." For years I've been taking my shoes off before entering my house (like twenty years, literally, long before my Abbey days), but now I poke them into place with my foot and make sure they're straight before going inside. I take the time to do it, I don't begrudge doing it, and for some reason it gives me a small moment to rest and regroup mentally. I'm no longer able to overlook a pile of jumbled-up shoes outside the door; there's peace in seeing them straight.

"I could be wrong." I may not agree with everything Jiyu-Kennett wrote or did, but some elements of her teaching made a deep impact. I'm much more likely to take a second, third and fourth look at things, especially those I react to with a lot of emotion. It makes sense to me that strong feelings might cloud my thinking and so it's good to slow down and reflect. Maybe I'm not wrong, that's possible too, but I want to consider all the options together.

"Look at what your mind is doing." I'm a believer now, that we can stop certain patterns and mind-tracks from endlessly replaying in our heads and causing suffering. This one sentence -- "look at what your mind is doing" -- has been a tremendous help to me in understanding that our thoughts are not "who we are" or "what we are". To me, they are mostly habits and patterns, and if they're not good, we can change them.

Anybody else?
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Ilo



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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Mon Feb 21, 2011 8:40 pm

Hi Breljo,

Our practice is, in the end, kind of a love story...... Smile
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mokuan



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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:57 am

Well said, Ilo.
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chisanmichaelhughes



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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Sun Mar 06, 2011 4:34 am

I would like to read a poem again by I think Genkaku or Bill
It was called Not yet Zen
It was pertinant at the time and pertinant again now for me, does any one have a copy,Kozan..Isan..Anne
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j.trivelpiece



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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:13 am

When I left the Abbey, I left my kesa there. I never returned, and after all these years I'm sure it has found a new owner.

With all the symbolism tied up in that object, I'm sorry I didn't keep it. I may have changed course in life. I did not surrender my Buddha Nature to The Abbey.

There's something here I want to reclaim. I want to sew another kesa- black like the original.

Does anyone on this forum have instructions for sewing one?
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Diana



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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:25 am

Here's a link to sewing a rakusu:

http://www.upaya.org/teachings/jukai-book.php

If you contact Upaya they might be able to help you out with other sewing projects :-)

~Diana
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George
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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:26 am

When I resigned as a lay minister (2007), "they" (not sure who, exactly) wanted everything back--robe, kesa, kesa case. Not sure that you could have kept your kesa, openly, anyway. It's probably good to make a new one.
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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:18 am

George wrote:
When I resigned as a lay minister (2007), "they" (not sure who, exactly) wanted everything back--robe, kesa, kesa case. Not sure that you could have kept your kesa, openly, anyway. It's probably good to make a new one.

This was one of the blatant examples of the belief that the validity of one's training was completely tied to obedience to the teacher and membership in the community. No matter how long you were there and how great your contribution, if you came to feel that the practice was no longer right for you and you needed to move on all acknowledgement and recognition were stripped away. There after you were shunned, treated as if you had never been there. I and many other people simply took the symbols of our practice with us and when we were asked to return them we just said no. One person even took his cat.

I believe the taking away of the symbols of practice and recognition, such as the kesa or the "silks" of transmitted monks, was a way of holding people hostage and sometimes it had devastating effects. I know of one person who I met ten years after leaving who's silks had been taken from her, and she still felt like some part of her soul had been removed and could not be recovered.

It would be interesting to know how the matter of robes and other priestly articles is dealt with traditionally in the larger Buddhist world. Perhaps the Buddhist scholars among us can speak to this? Obviously you do not receive the Buddha Nature during ordination and lose it if you cease to practice in a particular group - you should not be made to feel invalidated when leaving.


Last edited by Isan on Fri Jun 03, 2011 2:46 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : refinements)
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Tom

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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:23 am

Abbey teachings and others have influenced me over the years...Here are some recent thoughts :

I am not an atheist or a theist or an agnostic. I am neither this nor that. And I neither exist nor do I not exist. There is no I. I don't know who/what is writing this.

I am Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Evangelical, Jewish, and every other religion at the same time that I am not any of these. I simply am but I am not even that. And, of course, none of this matters.

So what purpose might religious practice have in one's life?

Many good things can come from a pure practice but it is very rare, especially among those who lead organized religions. There are some who are genuine because they haven't lost sight of their basic humanity and everything that comes with being a human being.

And even they can falter, but they haven't really. You have to sit in judgment to say someone else has faltered and that takes you with them into the abyss of thinking you actually know something. You don't. Don't fool yourself.

A very good religious teacher once told me, "religion is serious business. if you get involved with it, you must be very careful, especially, about what you may think is true from your egotistical perspective, which is always there to some extent. You cannot escape being human." (Paraphrasing from a talk by Jiyu)

And there is nothing wrong with being human. We humans are just that, human, and we behave like humans. It's neither right nor wrong, here or there.

All there is to do with your life is to do the best that you can do, but that is easier to say than to do. Give it some thought. How will you know what is best to do? Religions offer some principles, commandments, precepts, et. al. that can be useful guidelines but you, and only you, can reach the ultimate truth of how this translates into how you live your life, day to day, moment to moment.

And you, because of your humanity, have an ego that wants to be right about everything and in-charge. It's the nature of human beings. It's their essence. This is "the self" that Buddhism suggests you forget in order to know your true self which neither exists nor does not exist. It simply is. and it's not you. And it's you. You are part of it. It is part of you. It permeates all dimension, space. and yet there is nothing for there was nothing from the start.

To know you don't know is much easier to work with than thinking that you know, but that's not quite how it is either. You do know. And you don't know. And that's neither good nor bad, this or that.
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Fri Jun 03, 2011 3:00 pm

Tom wrote:
Abbey teachings and others have influenced me over the years...Here are some recent thoughts :

I am not an atheist or a theist or an agnostic. I am neither this nor that. And I neither exist nor do I not exist. There is no I. I don't know who/what is writing this.

That's fine as far as it goes, but it doesn't go all the way. In the place of "nothing matters" there is no need to consider the details of human existence, however while we live we are for the most part immersed in those details. The insight that "nothing matters" is given to establish what Jiyu Kennett called the "third position" from which we can view the myriad details of life and make choices from a less partial point of view. When Jiyu Kennett said "nothing matters" she often in the same breath said "everything matters". After we know we have a greater responsibility to look around us and make choices in accord with conscience.

I invite you to put your feet on the ground and speak directly to some of the thorny issues related here, such as this one about the taking away of the symbols of practice.
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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Fri Jun 03, 2011 6:09 pm

Sorry if my post was misunderstood to be in response to something other than the subject of the thread, "What teachings do you carry with you?" I wasn't responding to any other posts. The "you" in my post is self talk.
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Fri Jun 03, 2011 9:29 pm

Tom wrote:
Sorry if my post was misunderstood to be in response to something other than the subject of the thread, "What teachings do you carry with you?" I wasn't responding to any other posts. The "you" in my post is self talk.

Hello Tom,

It wasn't clear at first that your post was "free standing" and sorry if I came across blunt. I still invite you to speak more directly to some of the practical issues as the language in your post is very rarefied.
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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:23 pm

Hi Tom,
Isan wrote that "the language in your post is very rarefied". I would say that Isan is being kind.
There are many things in your post that one could comment on. I'll comment basically only on one.
You write, "to know your true self which neither exists nor does not exist. It simply is." I wonder how you propose Buddha would have said this. Buddha spoke a language closely related to Sanskrit and Sanskrit has only one verb for English 'to be' and 'to exist' - asti (3d p. sg.; Sanskrit doesn't have infinitive).
You quote a teacher saying that religion is a serious matter. Yes, it is. (It is also a happy thing.) One of the sayings of Jiyu Kennett's I cherish is, "Koan appears in daily life". It is good to stay grounded - life is full of lessons, which are at times painful, and at times lots of fun. It is easy to get lost in words.
Ol'ga
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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:41 pm

George wrote:
When I resigned as a lay minister (2007), "they" (not sure who, exactly)
wanted everything back--robe, kesa, kesa case.


When I left, I wasn't allowed to take my robes, rakksu, kesa, Transmission book, silks. I would have very much liked to keep them. Among other things, the kesa had a lovely clip which I made lovingly in the toolshed. The silks are very dear to me. It's hard to explain. All those things are witnesses to my journey, an important part of my life.

My black kesa, stitched entirely by hand, I had given to a girl monk in Berkeley a year before. The black rakksu, also stitched by hand, I still have. It never occured to me I could have refused to give those things to them. In my case, it was Eko who collected them.

My shaved head looked weird, since I had to wear my civvies (my work clothes - I didn't own anything else). In the town, while waiting for the bus north, I bought a scarf for my shaved head, so people wouldn't stare so much. It was an adventure... and I was free, even if sad.
O.


Last edited by Ol'ga on Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:51 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : clarification)
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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Sat Jun 04, 2011 10:37 am

Hi Ol'ga,

I feel sad that you had to give up your Transmission silks, that seems like a sign right there that something was off base. Those were yours!. I made my little wagessa by hand, saying "homage to the buddha"-stictch, "homage to the dharma"-stitch, etc. Glad I wasn't asked to give that up.

Tom, if I may offer some unsolicited advice? Throw out all your spiritual books, stop meditating, and go volunteer at an AIDS hospice. Or any hospice. There you might find the purpose of spiritual life. Spiritual life is practical or it is not worth much at all. Too much philosophy just causes spiritual indigestion. Best of luck.
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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Sat Jun 04, 2011 12:53 pm

When I left, I walked out with all the "stuff." Months later, after I had written a letter to Kennett that said clearly, "You are no longer my teacher. I am no longer your student. This relationship is over." I sent back the "teacher" certificate that also said i was named a "roshi" on it. I didn't want that and didn't feel it was an accurate reflection of reality. I was no master and from what I saw at Shasta, no one else there was either. So that I returned. I don't recall Kennett or anyone from Shasta contacting me and asking for anything else back, but if they had I would have ignored it.

Ol'ga - if the silks and the robes still have importance to you, why not write the new Abbess now and ask for their return? They were/are your property. The transmission silks are not given provisionally - they are not something that you keep when "they" like you and your must give back when they change their mind. Just a thought. It would be interesting to see how they respond. After all, they are supposed to be in healing mode now and the new Abbess has asked for direct contact with people that feel they were mistreated.

end of my babble...

josh
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Diana



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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Sat Jun 04, 2011 1:06 pm

What an interesting thread this is.

I have more empathy for all the ex-monks out there. I can't imagine the process of going through all you did and then disrobing and leaving with nothing, not even your hair.

Peace,
Diana
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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Sat Jun 04, 2011 1:34 pm

...changing course a few degrees... Some of the important learning from The Abbey: Paticca Sammupadda, The Law of Dependent Origination. As I sit here recalling the classes on this topic, I can recall the scent of hot Ponderosa Pine resin, the classes were held in the garden under the pines the hot summer we were there.

Looking at this through modern eyes, I see the beginnings of cognitive therapy.
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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Sat Jun 04, 2011 4:05 pm

My dear Josh,
Thank you for your suggestion and your encouragement. Yes, I will write to the Abbess of Shasta Abbey. At one point I was told (I don't know by whom) that the silks and Transmission books that were left behind are stored in a safety deposit box. A funny thought, really. Jiishas might know.
As to the robes and kesa - someone probably inherited them. I don't know how they could be identified. If someone IS wearing them, though, they run the risk of getting infected with my rebellious spirit, ha ha! I'm sure they're most radioactive! But I would love to get the kesa back. Perhaps I'd like to say thank you and give a hug to that 'kid' I once was. Yes, a hug and a wink.
And Josh, you don't babble, so stop that. I even gave you a +, even though I consider the marking system utterly silly. Maybe we should start giving plusses everywhere we go, to make it meaningless. But the one to you, Josh, I did mean.
Luv, Ol'ga
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Tom

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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Sat Jun 04, 2011 9:30 pm

Polly wrote "Tom, if I may offer some unsolicited advice? Throw out all your spiritual books, stop meditating, and go volunteer at an AIDS hospice. Or any hospice. There you might find the purpose of spiritual life. Spiritual life is practical or it is not worth much at all. Too much philosophy just causes spiritual indigestion. Best of luck."

Just FYI for Polly, I tested HIV + in the early-mid 1980's and I was diagnosed with AIDS in 1993. I have survived and was present for many deaths, etc. Your comment caused a gasp on first read Smile I don't know what to say.

My only intention of my original post was to share some thoughts on the subject thread. Gauging the response, I think I am not suited for this forum although theoretically, I fit. It seems my understanding is lacking Smile or something like that. Oh well, I never give up so I will keep going on.


I wish all of you well.

Tom

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polly

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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Sun Jun 05, 2011 12:12 am

Tom, I'm truly sorry if I offended or shocked you. You are undoubtedly just as well suited to this forum as any of the rest of us. Your writing style was surprising and since you seemed to come back to a place of "nothing matters" so often I wanted to suggest that some things matter very much in our very human lives. Sounds like you know that already from personal experience. And maybe you have gotten to where you seem to be directly because of your experience with AIDS. I cannot imagine what having that disease would do to your head but maybe one very good way of dealing with it is to sort of disconnect with some things that many of us aren't able to. Or am I misunderstanding you? Could be!
Again, no offense meant, please keep writing and we will get to know you and be able to communicate better.
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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Sun Jun 05, 2011 3:34 am

Tom,
I'm relatively new to this forum; I haven't posted much yet. It would be a pity if you quit before you even began here. It's risky to give unsolicited advice. No one here has offended me but I would also feel like gasping if someone said anything remotely critical of me. I'm uber sensitive! ( love that word, uber that is). I hope you'll stick around. truly, claire
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Tom

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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Sun Jun 05, 2011 1:15 pm

Thank you for your kind responses and encouragement. I could have been more careful with what and when I posted my thoughts. My friends describe me as "childlike but not childish".

I am lucky in that I didn't seriously consider becoming a monk or even a lay minister because of other things that were on my plate when I first came to Shasta in 1983. I came to the monastery desperate for freedom from drug/alchohol addiction, etc. and then HIV came into my life too. At least that is the way I saw it and, in reflection, it seems correct, for me.

I have always seen my meditation/religious practice as something personal, outside of organized religion. I grew up gay in the mid-south Bible belt, and early on developed an intense distrust of churches, the people that go to church, and, especially, religious leaders.

I guess I might be described as a "renegade lay person", but I am just someone looking for inner peace and acceptance of myself and others without exception.

I am saddened by your stories here on the forum of abuse by Shasta Abbey/OBC. I can only imagine your pain of being hurt on the personal level of faith and dignity. Please know that those of you who trained at the Abbey when I was present truly helped me with your example and continue to guide me here with your discussions and wisdom.

I am grateful for the forum and opportunity to be connected with you.

Sincerely,

Tom




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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Sun Jun 05, 2011 2:43 pm

Tom wrote:

I have always seen my meditation/religious practice as something personal, outside of organized religion.

Tom, I feel this way too. And I feel like a renegade most of the time, and I think that has largely kept me out of harm's way.

I'm glad to see you post again and hope you will stick around --

regards,
Lise
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Sun Jun 05, 2011 2:52 pm

Tom wrote:
Thank you for your kind responses and encouragement.

I guess I might be described as a "renegade lay person", but I am just someone looking for inner peace and acceptance of myself and others without exception.

Tom,

Thank you for this more personal post which conveys a lot about who you are and why you're here. Do stick around and enrich the conversation.
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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Sun Jun 05, 2011 4:59 pm

Tom, there is piece in today's New York Times about surviving with HIV. You might find it useful. I posted it on my facebook page. Here is the link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/05/opinion/05trautwein.html?ref=opinion

I love the last paragraphs:

What I’ve gained is precious. Above all, the constant companionship of plague has taught me that life is about living, not cheating death. Fighting disease is required and struggling with life inevitable. But I accept the outcomes now, whatever they are. My disease does not make me special, nor does my survival make me courageous.

On that day I walked from the hospital knowing I had “it,” I was given a great gift: the realization that we all dangle from that most delicate of threads and that the only way to live a life is to love it.

I haven’t died on schedule, and I’ve been learning not to live life on one either.
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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Sun Jun 05, 2011 7:22 pm

Hey Tom, just fyi I found nothing wrong with your original post there. I think it's fine to shoot a few philosophical rockets at the moon on an internet forum. In fact, many people contributing to this thread have been far more high falutin in other parts of the forum.

I think some of the reaction may have been due to the use of the word "you" as a generic pronoun. In some people's dialects it's never used generically like that. I understood it.

Anyway - water under the bridge.


About the robes: I'm kind of shocked that some pieces of cloth can mean so much to people. I've never personally been strongly symbollically embroiled with physical objects. Weren't the rags just supposed to kind of represent what was going on within the mind?

Hmmm. I'm trying to understand the connection people have with such objects. Maybe its a bit like the way I feel about my little girl's first tiny pair of shoes? Part of me wants to cherish them as a symbol of what she once was. Or.... when i was a little boy I had a red jumper that gave me magic stregnth and allowed me to fight like my dog. I always wanted to wear the red jumper. But I don't think the shoes or the jumper matter to the extent that I'd feel emotionally bound to them decades later.

I want to burn all your robes. I'm bad.

EDIT: I'm going to think about this a bit and try and think of objects in my own life that I may have had the "robe syndrome" with. So, for now, your robes are all safe from my wrath.

EDIT#2: Ok I've had to get out of bed to write this. I think I understand now. The above mentioned shoes are not so important because my little girl is still around, leaving signs of her presence everywhere. If I were to lose her though, those little shoes would be very very difficult to let go of.
Is the robe attachment a bit like that?





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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Sun Aug 07, 2011 1:40 am

:-) Josh, I hope I'm not too late to ask this question...
You wrote:
I sent back the "teacher" certificate that...said i was named a "roshi" on it. I didn't want that and didn't feel it was an accurate reflection of reality. I was no master and from what I saw at Shasta, no one else there was either.
Do you recall on what basis you were given the title roshi/zen master, or do you have a theory on it? E.g: was it solely because you had experienced what RMJ believed to have been a past life; or had you experienced directly a degree of liberative insight into the emptiness of “self” imputed upon the skandhas (which, for the one experiencing it, validates teachings of emptiness and usually spurs yet greater commitment to training); or was there some other reason?

Personally, I believe that the title zen master (as distinct, perhaps, from teacher, if the person is in a teaching role) is not suitably given to anyone before basic arhat stage: in Mahayana, this is not the end of it, and perhaps the title junior zen master would be more appropriate at this stage*. So I can see that if you felt this title was conferred at a much less developed level of the supramundane path, you might have some doubts about the person administrating the system. But yet more seriously affecting would be if you believe/d your title to have been given on the basis of a spurious event…

Your infill on this would be much appreciated (-:

* NB I think my armchair ideal would probably be impossible to administer on a practical level!
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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Tue Aug 23, 2011 4:07 am

:-) Oops! My apologies, Josh ~

While searching the OBCC website for entries on another matter, I alighted again upon The Story of The Three Dimes, which you posted on 28 Nov 2010:

You wrote:
Just to set the table, I was one of the original group of disciples from 1969-70. I had experienced kensho, received transmission in 1971, completed the 5-year teacher’s training, and Kennett had officially named me a “roshi.”
Obviously from this, your kensho preceded your transmission (I remember seeing you as a senior monk @ Throssel during the summer sesshin in 1973), and events of the HGLB period. So my apology for this oversight, which had conditioned my question in the post above. (-:

(Also my above post may have seemed to suggest that the title roshi would signify only ones self-awakening; but of course ideally it implies a person's ability to guide others throughout (unnamed) levels of their training, which is another ability and skill.)
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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Sat Feb 14, 2015 5:52 am

Probably a bundle of stuff to facilitate communication. For example, if I were an elderly patient facing the end of my life, I would carry photographs with me of my younger self so that the clinical/charity workers could relate to me as a person.
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PostSubject: Re: What teachings do you carry with you?   Tue Apr 07, 2015 10:22 am

Some of the positivity from Mount Shasta is something I completely took for granted for DECADES. Just lately, I have seen myself in a delicate situation or two where I might profit at the expense of another and could kind of detachedly watch myself make the choice that was in the other person's interest, realizing that I was repeating out of habit what I had received over and over at the Abbey and Priories of OBC.
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